Treament Options for Back Pain

Back pain is ubiquitous in today’s culture.  It causes pain and results in an absurd amount of lost productivity.  That is why I strong advocate moderate movement throughout the day and working with a sit-stand desk.  Because it is such a huge problem, it is no surprise that everything from conservative measures to more radical options have surfaced in order to rid the people of the suffering. Below is a run-down on some of the treatment options for back pain.


According to a study discussed by WebMD, massage has been shown to benefit people who suffer from lower back pain. The study consisted of 400 adult subjects with average to extreme lower back pain. After the course of two and a half months, the two groups of participants (out of three) that received weekly massages reported more relief and improved functioning in contrast to the participants who didn’t undergo the massage therapy. The researchers also found out that the type of massage, be it Swedish-style massage or massage centered on particular muscle problems, did not matter. This sounds good as the typical type of massage taught in massage schools is Swedish-style. This means it won’t be much of a problem to find a therapist who can give you some much-needed relief. Of course, just like any other back discomfort treatment course, massage doesn’t promise total or permanent respite from the pain. However, it does afford significant (but temporary) relief.  Massage should not be thought of as a permanent solution for back pain management.  It is also very expensive to get a massage every week if insurance doesn’t cover it.

However, you can get massages for extremely cheap.  Here’s how; invest in a great foam roller.  A good foam roller should be firm and allow you to massage deep within the muscles.  This type of massage therapy (called fascia release) has been very popular as of late because of its effectiveness, especially compared to its bargain price.  You can buy one on Amazon for less than $30.  If you do not want a foam roller, a baseball or softball will work just as well—it just won’t hit as many areas at a time.

Float Therapy

Float therapy is a big deal here in Seattle.  I’ve tried it once and it seems to do a great job of temporarily relieving tension in the postural muscles (neck, shoulders, back).  With float therapy, you are alone in an isolation tank in the dark—and floating in water that is mixed with epson salt (which makes you float).  It takes a bit getting used to but it is very relaxing and gives you a great change-of-pace from the hustle-and-bustle of today’s society.

If you are interested in doing float therapy, I recommend waiting out for a Groupon or LivingSocial coupon; they have them all the time.

Chiropractic Therapies

Chiropractic is a health care profession that uses alternative therapies to treat back pain. The most common treatment modality is spinal adjustment, which focuses on physically manipulating the spine in order to treat its misalignments and other imbalances. Chiropractic also uses adjunct therapies that do not have anything to do with the prescription of medications or placing the patient under the surgical knife. Instead, this unconventional branch of healing centers on the promotion of good posture with ergonomically-correct equipment in the home and office and other lifestyle recommendations. A lot of cases of back pain are traced to poor posture and other similar unhealthy practices so a visit to a trained chiropractor may be just what you need.

I have been to several chiropractors and I’m sad to say that not all chiropractors are created equal.  I’ve found that the chiropractors that just go in and crack your back do not do any good in terms of treating back pain.  However, the chiropractors that take a holistic approach to your musculoskeletal system seem to be godsend.  Find a chiropractor who does postural correction therapy in addition to “adjusting the spine.”


This treatment option has been around for ages! Coming from China, the practice of acupuncture has crossed oceans and continents to reach almost every pocket of the world. Although this unorthodox healing procedure has become popular throughout the globe, it still isn’t clear just how acupuncture works to heal back pain. Basing on the Chinese’ traditional theories, when the flow of qi energy is disrupted, so are normal body functions. Treatment of the disorders then consists of improving the flow of energy through the stimulation of acupuncture points by the use of thin, metal needles. Some have reported great relief by turning to this method, but you should always remember that with the human body’s complexity, what may work for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. If the usual treatment modalities prescribed by your physician don’t effectively treat your back pain, then maybe this centuries-old technique can grant you some relief.


Stretching exercises are another path to take in your journey towards back pain relief. According to an article on Spine Health, increasing the mobility of your spine and soft tissues through stretching will lead to lasting and meaningful relief of the back discomfort. However, you should know right from the start that stretching your body won’t immediately rid you of the discomfort. It will take weeks, even months, of stretches before you can see some improvement. Before you start stretching your neck, shoulders, and back, it is always a good idea to check with your physician if such exercises are safe to perform with your existing condition. You should also bear in mind a few reminders before carrying out the stretches. One of the most important things to remember is to ensure you don’t force your body into impossible positions; after all, you are stretching to relieve the pain, not add to it.

A popular way to stretch and relieve neck pain is to do yoga.  Yoga has been shown to be extremely beneficial to those with both acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions.

Postural Correction

Postural correction is done to correct bad posture resulting from years of sitting at a desk.  Postural correction can be done by just simply sitting with a straight back or using a stand up desk.

To correct your posture while sitting, there are several tools you can use.  You can sit on a yoga ball as it forces you to sit with your spine straight.  You can also use an ergonomic chair with lumbar support.  What I used when I was initially correcting my back was a wooden back roller. I would place the wooden back roller at the lumbar region; this forces my back to be straight.

Using a standing desk, or a sit-stand desk, is also another way to correct your posture.  If you are going to use a standing desk, here is the proper ergonomic configuration for it:

ideal standing desk setup

Strength Workouts

Think of your torso as a collective group of muscles that work hand in hand. If the muscles of your midsection are weak, then the rest of the group, including the back muscles, must put in more effort than they should have to. Following this line of reasoning, it shouldn’t take much to arrive at the conclusion that when you strengthen your abdominal muscles, your back muscles are freed from doing most of the work, reducing the strain and pain in your back. In addition, strengthening the back and hips is also a great way to relieve the load that you put on your lumbar spine.

If you have neck and shoulder issues, weight training that target those regions seem to be most beneficial in getting rid of pain in the neck and shoulder pain.  To get rid of my shoulder and neck pain, I do shoulder shrugs with dumbbells and military presses with barbells.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy makes up a huge and significant part of any back pain care plan. Physical therapists work side by side with the patient to help him develop strength, improve suppleness, and increase stamina. The aims of physical therapy also include back pain relief, improvement of daily functions, and prevention of recurring back pain issues in the future. The therapies involved in this branch of health care consist of the use of ultrasound equipment, electrical stimulation, heat and cold therapy, massage, and various exercises. Physical therapy is particularly useful in rehabilitating patients who have had surgery, although it also involves health promotion and disease prevention even in the absence of actual disorders.


When all conservative measures have been attempted yet have failed to provide you relief from debilitating back pain, surgery may be the next option on the list. It seems that a herniated disc is the culprit behind a great number of cases of low back pain. The usual operation for this type of disorder is a Discectomy, wherein the disc’s soft gel-like substance is removed, the disc is restored to its customary shape, and the nerve pressure is eased. Another type of surgery that may be performed is spinal fusion. This surgical option is often augmented with Spinal Instrumentation, which involves the use of metal devices in order to stabilize the spinal column.  Other alternatives, such as Laminectomy and Laminotomy, may also be performed, depending on the underlying cause of your back problem.

There are several other treatment options for back pain. Some may be used in combination with others, while others are used as a stand-alone remedy. No matter which option/s you take, it is best if you exercise caution in making the choice. Medical and expert advice should guide you on your way to back pain relief.


The above treatment options are not meant to be an all-encompassing list of treatment options for back and neck pain.  It is just a list of popular and novel treatment options.  Not all treatments are created equal.  I have found that treating neck and back pain can sometimes be as simple as stretching everyday, getting exercise, correcting your posture, and strengthening the supporting muscles.  But then again, my pain was relatively mild compared to other people’s.  So if you have back pain, the above list are some of the more effective options you have when it comes to treating your pain.  Good luck.

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